SOTC – 28/10/13

A couple of people asked me to post an up to date SOTC recently, so here it is – no changes of late and I won’t be selling any of these any time soon. I quite like the mix of modern and vintage, and there are quite a few different styles and complications in there. I must say that I’m particularly fond of the 806 (which needs a new strap) and the 5513, although I wear all of them regularly and get a lot of pleasure from each of them.

I had 17 watches not that long ago and am much more comfortable with a smaller and more manageable collection (that said, I do have a little package on the way). Anyway, I hope you like the pack-shot

A lesson in vintage

These two watches have taught me a very important lesson when it comes to vintage, and one that has altered my whole perception of what I like. I’ve spent the last couple of years looking for old watches that are so pristine that they might never have been worn, but throughout that time I’ve been missing the point.

I love these watches so much, and part of the reason is that wearing them feels like I’ve inherited their history – because you can see that history at a glance. In fact, this has struck home to such an extent that I’ll almost certainly move on my NOS Autavia GMT and replace it with something that looks… well, a bit older.

Funny game, this.

Dot over 90

I met a few fellow watch-enthusiasts for a (rained-out) BBQ over the weekend. Someone had kindly offered to bring a press in order that the old/original “dot over 90” bezel could be put back onto my Ed White Speedy and I thought it was too good an opportunity to pass up. Off came the service replacement and on went a rather worn, scuffed but authentic bezel in its place.

I do tend to like my watches as minty as possible, but for some reason this looks so much better.

Iconic chronographs

I’ve seen quite a few attempts to define the most iconic chronographs of all time. Top 5 after top 5, all of which have one thing in common… and that’s the watches that occupy the first 3 places. I didn’t set out to have those 3 in my watch box, but I’m not complaining either.

I have to admit, after these three it all gets a bit confusing. I think I’d go for a Heuer of some sort – probably a Monaco, put perhaps a Carrera – in 4th spot?

Completing the set

I’ve never ordered an Extract of the Archives from Omega before but I wanted to know the production date of my Ed White Speedmaster and it also seemed like it completed the set nicely. Anyway, less than two weeks from the date of order, and it arrived in the post this morning. I was actually expecting it to be laminated (which it wasn’t), but on the plus side it was contained within an envelope bearing a waxed Omega seal; it also opens via a flap at the top so the seal is still intact.

The important thing is that I now know the production date (to the day), which is kind of nice

Strap options for the Ed White

I do like to change straps/bracelets pretty regularly – that goes for most of my watches, too – and so far as the Ed White Speedy is concerned i seem to have quite a few options. The bracelet (the correct vintage reference, too) will be staying in the box, but I still have to make my mind up as to what I’m going to keep on the watch for now. I have three very different looks, potentially, and this morning I seem to be favouring the NATO… mind you, who knows what tomorrow will bring?

Open the hatch, I’m going out…

Whilst I considered my beautiful Speedmaster professional ST145.022 to be as close to a keeper as I’m ever likely to have, of late I’ve also been suffering increasingly lustful feelings brought on by photos of the “Ed White” 105.003 and sure enough I gave in to temptation when an absolute gem popped up on TZ-UK. It meant letting a friend have his old watch back (well, he had been hinting for some time, if truth be told) but I have no doubt whatsoever that I made the right decision.

It was in June 1965 that Edward H white II – a member of the Gemini 4 spacecraft crew – opened the hatch and embarked on a 22 minute spacewalk with an Omega Speedmaster mounted on a NASA velcro strap adorning the outside of his spacesuit.

The funny thing is, Omega themselves weren’t even aware that this amazing piece of horological history was going to be created, and it was only after the read the Life Magazine report of the spacewalk and saw the accompanying pictures that they realised the extent of the opportunity afforded to them. Future models of the Speedmaster would thereafter bear the word “Professional” on the dial and a legend was born.

Whilst the Speedmaster may have been the first watch to be actually exposed to the hostile environment of space, the association of watches with space exploration slightly more muddied, and for those interested Chuck Maddox provided a nice little timeline here. Even more interestingly, however, not only is the 105.003 thought to be the first watch exposed directly to outer space, but it was also the last watch to be worn on the moon as Eugene Cernan wore a reference 105.003 on the Apollo 17 mission. Cernan was the last person to leave the surface of the moon and his watch can now be seen in the Omega Museum.

History aside, then, the Ed White is identifiable by it’s (smaller – 40mm?) round, symmetrical case, straight lugs, lack of crown guards and a stepped dial that features an applied Omega logo. Inside, the c.321 movement is based on a design development project titled “27 CHRO C12” (27 mm diameter, chronograph, with extra 12-hour register) which took place in the 1940’s and involved Albert Piguet and Jaques Reymond (it was actually a joint development project between Omega and Lemania). Launched in 1942, the 27 CHRO C12 later became known as the Lemania 2310 (or Omega c.321). It was used not only in the Omega Speedmaster from 1957 to 1965, but also in the renamed and re-cased Omega Speedmaster Professional from mid-1965 through to mid-October 1968, together with the DeVille, Seamaster and other Omega chronographs during this era. (This info, together with some great background on all of the Speedmaster Moonwatch movements, can again be found courtesy of the late Chuck Maddox here.)

All in all, an instantly recognisable piece of horological history and one of the true icons amongst watches. This one, from 1967, is in frankly stunning condition, having gone to STS for the full spa treatment in 2006. The case is near perfect, the dial nothing short of glorious, and whilst it sports a service replacement bezel the original (along with the original crown and pushers) were included in the sale package. All in all, it really is the ultimate Speedy, so with this and the lovely Mk II Racing that I’m also lucky enough to own, I think I can tick that box for good.